PR… meet PRketing

I was at a meeting with a group of agencies not too long ago – PR, ad, digital and media buying. We were working together on a campaign that included various components from each of our firms. When the plan was presented, I was struck by the similarity of social media executions across all disciplines.

This is markedly different than it’s been in the past, when PR focused on publicity, events, speaking engagements, internal communications and other influencer outreach. Advertising was all about creative – usually TV, print and radio. Digital was the web presence; did someone say microsite? Media was spreadsheets and GRPs peppered with the occasional advertorial or promotion.

And the world turned…

But social media has blurred the lines (tactics?) and the social engagement programs we see from advertising, digital, media and PR are sounding more and more similar.

Some industries are adapting faster than others. In Toronto a number of PR people have been swallowed up by ad firms, which are also adding community managers. That seems to be a smart thing to do.

Is PR lagging behind?  I hope not. But in some ways PR reminds me of publishing – two disciplines clinging to the status quo. I sure hope we don’t miss out on our place in social media the way we did with web 1.0.

So what can PR do to ensure this doesn’t happen?

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Write short, snappy and with more pizazz. We’re good with long-form, but could learn a lot about phrase-turning from our copywriter colleagues.
  2. Creative direction. Our powerpoints tend to be dull and wordy (guilty as charged). It’s high time we upped the ante on creativity and visual thinking. Infographic anyone?
  3. Steer clear of silos. One great thing about PR is you need to know how to do it all and master writing, event planning, story development, publicity, client relations, and so on. Now we have to add a new set of skills including video production and editing, audio and, of course thinking and talking digital.
  4. Continue to do more with less. Let’s face it, PR budgets have always been low compared to other disciplines. That’s made us nimble and resourceful. With the decreased barriers to entry in social media, that’s a card we should play.
  5. Stop hanging onto the past.  It’s hard to venture into unknown turf… But unless we want to be left in the HTML5 dust, we need to rely less on past successes and more on future possibilities.

What skills would you add?

About Martin Waxman

Martin Waxman is a digital, social media and communications strategist, content marketer, social media trainer and instructor and co-founder of three PR agencies. He blogs at myPALETTE and hosts the Inside PR podcast.

Brannan Atkinson
Brannan Atkinson

I couldn't agree more with your thoughts. PR professionals have to adapt our skills and style (and not just AP) to survive. At the same time, we understand influence better than the other marketing disciplines. That distinction should help the industry as social media forces changes.

Chris Vollick
Chris Vollick

This post answered a lot of questions I had about the PR field. As someone new to the field and trying to pay attention, it was nice to have what I thought I was seeing validated by a professional working in the field.